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The Country Enterprise Handbook
Analysing your assets|Land use|Vegetables|Soft fruit|Flower & herb growing|Orchard & vineyard|Woodlands Sheep|Beef|Pigs|Rabbits|Hens|Ducks|Geese|Dairying|Kitchen|Bees|Wool|Water|Home|Contact us

Growing vegetables
...Timing your veg
...In heavy Soil
...In light Soil
...With Organic Manure
...Your enemies & friends
...After germination
...Presenting the product
...Specialist veg
...Sprouts to Endive
...Eggplant to Salsify
...Sea Kale etc

If you have ditches near the area you are cultivating, keep them really clear.

A well-cared-for ditch is a great help in draining land and one that is often overlooked on small land enterprises. By digging down an extra foot, ditches that have long ceased to be effective can be returned to active life. Watch an effective ditch at work when the weather is wet and imagine what all the water it is carrying away would do to the land it is draining. Without ditches it is more difficult to drain land. To drain a large area you may need to use land drains leading to a constructed soakaway. Envisaging all this digging may persuade you to practise small-scale ditch digging. This is really an application of polder farming. Dig ditches, with the lie of the land vertically down your plot, dig a ditch at the bottom leading to a collecting area such as a small pond.

On clay soils you can construct a pond in a time-honoured way by using the natural clay as an impervious layer. If you live on different soil or do not have such faith in nature, you must resort to polythene liners. Of course, if you live on very light soil then you can run the whole system in reverse. Put the pond at the highest point and lead the ditches running away; if the soil is extremely light it is worth lining the ditches with polythene. These methods of carrying water to and from sources have been practised all over the world for centuries.

It is amusing that now we have developed cheap plastic sheeting to make the whole process more foolproof, we seem to use the method less. This is, of course, partially due to a mechanised approach to vegetable production. When the enterprise is looked at from a smaller point of view, machine and daily labour requirements can take on a different position and it is often logical if you are producing on your own to use the winter months to construct waterways and drains so that the summer workload can be lessened.